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The many nutrients found in an avocado

The avocado is sometimes called the "alphabet fruit" (yes, it's a fruit) because it contains over 20 essential vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and B vitamins, plus copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, fiber, protein and potassium. In fact, avocados have the highest amount of vitamin E than any other fruit and three times the potassium of a banana, according to

The health benefits for the heart

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are two 'good' fats. These fats help lower blood cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated and trans fats, according to the American Heart Association. It just so happens that avocados contain both of these unsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fat can also help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and raise the amount of HDL (good cholesterol) in the body, according to an article on CNN.

Vitamin B6, also found in avocados, helps lower homocysteine levels, which means reducing the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association's website.

Avocados are good for an active lifestyle

Exercising demands energy, and the unsaturated, or 'good', fats in an avocado can provide a concentrated source of energy for the body, according to the California Avocado Commission's website.

The many B vitamins found in avocados also help with energy metabolism. Anyone who is physically active benefits from not only these fats but also all of the nutrients and vitamins found in avocados, according to the LiveStrong nutrition website.

The anti-aging effects of an avocado

Avocados contain high amounts of lutein, which is an antioxidant that helps protect eye function as the body ages. Some studies suggest that they can actually improve your vision, according to the American Public Health Association's website.

Avocados can also help improve your appearance. The antioxidants in avocados can reduce the symptoms of aging, and avocado oil is used in many skin and hair cosmetics to make the appearance of skin and hair smoother and fresher.

How to work avocado into your diet

There are hundreds of recipes for avocado dips and spreads that require adding unhealthy ingredients, but some of the easiest ways to add avocado to your diet are also the healthiest.

Simply slicing up an avocado and adding to a salad, BLT, hamburger or chicken sandwich will instantly increase your intake of essential nutrients to that meal.

Another everyday option is to mash the avocado with a fork and use it as a spread on crackers or toast instead of butter. Lemon or lime juice squeezed into the spread can add more flavor. You can also substitute it for mayonnaise on a sandwich.

Avocado can help amp up the nutrition content in many meals or snacks, as it is a great source of vitamins and other nutrients. What is your favorite avocado recipe?